Leading oilfield services player Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) has announced a deal with Malaysian state oil company Petronas to explore shale reserves in the country.  Halliburton is looking to export its shale expertise to regions outside the U.S. and is already providing unconventionals exploration services in Latin American and European countries. A slowdown in shale gas exploration activity in the U.S. forced by low gas prices in North America is hastening the company to push for markets outside the country. Halliburton is the second largest player in the oilfield services segment after world leader Schlumberger (NYSELSLB).
We have a $53 price estimate for Halliburton, which is at a 30% premium to its current market price.
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Halliburton has been focusing on the expanding importance of unconventionals exploration to drive future revenue growth across geographies. The shale revolution in the U.S. is catching the attention of players around the world looking to boost local production of gas. Countries like China and Poland sit on vast reserves of natural gas tapped in shale formations and have started efforts to extract the gas by employing techniques such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Shale exploration now contributes to a third of the natural gas produced in the U.S. and companies such as Exxon have already started drilling test wells in Poland. The latest deal with Petronas symbolizes that Halliburton is actively pursuing opportunities in the Asian region as well.
Shale exploration has contributed to the strong growth in the North American rig count while counts in other geographies have remained largely leveled. Companies like Chesapeake and ConocoPhillips are cutting down gas production in the U.S. due to low natural gas price. Halliburton already has close to 5,500 employees in the Asia Pacific region and is looking to capitalise on the future efforts to explore unconventionals in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.  This is expected to boost rig counts in the Asia and Middle East region over the next few years.Notes: